The first step post-capture in any digital photography workflow is getting the frames into your editing program. I like Aperture, because it’s powerful, cheap, easy to learn and easy to install from the Mac App Store. Here’s how to manage your photo importing using Aperture.
The latest edition of Adobe’s amateur image editing software takes a little from Photoshop and a little from iPhoto, but it may not be enough to justify the price. It largely depends on how much you like your Apple-exclusive features.
If you find yourself having to resize images often and use Windows, you might like to check out Dropresize, a handy free system tray application. It runs in the background and monitors a folder you specify on your hard drive — any images that are dropped into the folder are then automatically resized according to the specifications you set in the app’s preferences. Very handy and straightforward, particularly if you have to often have to make images one size (for blog posts, for example). But a word of warning: The original version is not kept when the image is resized, so if you want to keep the original, make a copy first (or hold Ctrl when dragging to make a copy).
Dropresize is a free download, and still in beta so there may be some bugs. No install is required (just run the program), so if you want it to run every time you launch Windows, you’ll need to add it to your Startup folder. It requires Windows XP, Vista or 7 and the .NET 2.0 Framework.
If you’ve found a handy little app like this recently, let us know about it below.
There are alternatives to Photoshop Elements, including a gaggle of online image editing programs offered either for free or a modest fee. None of them holds a candle to full-fledged bitmap image editors like Photoshop Elements, Pixelmator or Acorn in terms of power and sophistication, but depending on your needs, image editing “in the cloud” could be all you require.
For basic photo editing, if you’re running OS X 10.5 Leopard you don’t need Photoshop Elements or Pixelmator. Leopard’s Preview graphics viewer application is much more than a viewer; it now incorporates some very handy image correction tools that are not only user-friendly and intuitive to use, but also work really well.
Consequently, if you take digital photos or scan transparencies or prints onto your computer and want to optimize them, you may not need a traditional image editor application at all. Preview can do the job for you.
Read More about Using Preview’s Enhanced Photo Editing Tools
Jade, a different sort of digital image processing utility, doesn’t do anything you can’t achieve using tools and filters in Photoshop, Pixelmator, or other image editors, but it can transform your less-than-perfect shots (dark, dim, feeble, pale, badly lit, vague, gloomy) into images you can be proud of with minimal effort.
Jade leverages advanced graphics algorithms to enhance color, contrast and dynamic range with no user adjustment required for individual shots or batch lots, and also provides manual control to fine-tune intensity values, image contrast and color correction values if desired. I found this seldom necessary. Jade delivers a pleasing result by default almost every time, amazing me by how it can take shots I’ve expended serious time tweaking with Photoshop Elements’ or Pixelmator’s formidable arsenals of image correction tools, and improve them even more almost instantly. Jade is a staff pick on Apple’s download website with good reason.
Jade version 1.3.1, released late last month, adds Picasa Web Albums upload support, keychain support to remember Flickr and Picasa login data, and an updated Picasa/Flickr batch save process, plus extensive fixes in the Help files and some renamed menus. An Apple Aperture Plugin that uses the same algorithms and correction parameters as Jade is also available.
Read More about Jade: No Hassle, Digital Image Correction for Leopard
While looking into the Operation Foxbook story, I ran across Aviary – an application interesting enough to deserve some notice on its own. Aviary bills itself as “a suite of powerful creative applications that you can use right in your web browser,” and although they’re certainly no Creative Suite replacement, for Flash-based tools they’re pretty good – as well as affordable.
Right now there are three tools in the suite:
- Phoenix, a layer-based image editor with a reasonable selection of masks and effects.
- Toucan, a tool for putting together palettes and color swatches
- Peacock, a generative “visual laboratory” that is the funnest tool in the bunch.
The two newest kids on the block, Pixelmator and Acorn, have both been updated to version 1.2, each carrying increased stability and new features. Ars Technica’s Infinite Loop blog has a post covering some new features – including Curves, Rulers, and more – clearly planned to keep pushing at the market currently dominated by Adobe Photoshop.
From the information I’ve read about Pixelmator’s latest update, some parts seem to have been rewritten to tie more closely into Core Image in Mac OS X, as well as to chase away some of the crashes I experienced.
Acorn adds stability to an otherwise already awesome app – great for the average Joe who doesn’t need all of the crazy complexity of a Photoshop-type app, but wants a slightly better tool than iPhoto provides (including awesome scripting capabilities, Web image tools, vector drawing, and easy manipulation of layers). These both kick Photoshop’s butt when it comes to processing ability – they use the GPU, rather than relying on the processor to perform operations.
I personally still use Photoshop for my day-to-day stuff, but anything to keep some nice competition on Adobe’s case is all right with me. If CS4 ends up being a mere upgrade to 64-bit for Windows only, with no real features, I’ll definitely consider jumping to Pixelmator when the time comes for an upgrade.
Please try not to send me any 20 MB attachments, but if you do, you can now use Gmail. The (unofficial) Google Operating System blog says that Google’s Gmail service just increased the attachment limit from 10 MB to 20 MB, which ought to make most e-mail clients choke twice as fast now. 😉 Joking aside, we mobile types aren’t too keen on getting gigunda-sized attachments, especially if we’re on a slower EDGE connection or in a maxed-out hotspot.
While it’s nice for Google to raise limits at the e-mail poker table, here’s an alternative to sending those large attachments: try either the senduit or MailBigFile services. These freebies allow you to upload and store a large file for a pre-determined length of time up to a week. You get a URL for the file which you can then e-mail to a bud in lieu of the large attachment. This gives your mobile pal time to get to a faster or wired connection for the quicker transfer. 😉